Wednesday, August 17, 2005


A Good Question for Ltc Schaffer

I've been "parsing" the NY Time's interview with Ltc. Schaffer as well as catching his interviews on TV today.

I've got one question. First, here is where my question is coming from.

Ltc. Schaffer's words from the NY Times interview:

"Colonel Shaffer said in an interview that the small, highly classified intelligence program known as Able Danger had identified by name the terrorist ringleader, Mohammed Atta, as well three of the other future hijackers by mid-2000, and had tried to arrange a meeting that summer with agents of the F.B.I.'s Washington field office to share the information.

But he said military lawyers forced members of the intelligence program to cancel three scheduled meetings with the F.B.I. at the last minute, which left the bureau without information that Colonel Shaffer said might have led to Mr. Atta and the other terrorists while the Sept. 11 plot was still being planned.

"I was at the point of near insubordination over the fact that this was something important, that this was something that should have been pursued," Colonel Shaffer said of his efforts to get the evidence from the intelligence program to the F.B.I. in 2000 and early 2001."

Yet, Ltc. Schaffer said here

"Colonel Shaffer said that because he was not an intelligence analyst, he was not involved in the details of the procedures used in Able Danger to glean information from terrorist databases. Nor was he aware, he said, which databases had supplied the information that might have led to the name of Mr. Atta or other terrorists so long before the Sept. 11 attacks.

But he said he did know that Able Danger had made use of publicly available information from government immigration agencies, from internet sites and from paid search engines such as Lexis Nexis.

"We didn't that Atta's name was significant" at the time, he said, adding that "we just knew there were these linkages between him and these other individuals who were in this loose configuration" of people who appeared to be tied to an American-based cell of Al Qaeda."

Alright, everyone is wondering what the "We didn't that Atta's" is all about. The word is "think".

If Col, you guys didn't think that Atta's name was significant and you had no indication or data that they were planning an attack, then my question is this:

"Why the big hurry to get this "no information" to the FBI?"

I mean, in your own words, prior to 9/11 you didn't have squat to report? Wall or no wall, what was the hurry?

In a post 9/11 world the answer is simple. But this wasn't post 9/11. According to what we've heard no one in 1999 or 2000 had a clue what these guys would have been up to.

Yes, if the FBI followed up we would have learned some more information, but that's not my question. Of the 60 or so names/connections/dots, whatever that have been mentioned as being on a chart/list/whatever, what was the hurry with Atta's group?

I submit: There was something they were doing that made the need to get out the news urgent:


Are we being taken down the primrose path again.

Here's the deal.

In other words there would have been NO reason for trying to get the FBI to look specifically at this group - again, for what? An identified Al Qaeda cell?

Ok, granted - that's important. But then what were they DOING? Was there evidence of an operational plan? Or some other evidence that they were planning to take, Oh,....flying lessons? Anything like that?

How many cells were they. If there were more than one, then what made THIS one more important than the others?

The most we have is you saying that Able Danger idenfitied them. Ok, but that doesn't warrent a full scale "tear the wall down" alert does it?

Yes in hindsight - important - but we weren't dealing in hindsight in 2000.

Think about it.

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